Q & A with Spencer Hirsch
TH: You are the Assistant Director, a newly created position at Texas Hillel. Can you explain what you do in your capacity as Assistant Director?
SH: The Assistant Director role includes a few core pieces. I partner with the Executive Director and the other Senior Staff to imagine and implement the long-term vision for Texas Hillel. I manage the Student Life Department, and support our program staff. I also oversee marketing, branding, calendaring and general logistics. Lastly, I work closely with Texas Hillel’s student leadership, and together we drive Shabbat programming, Jewish holidays, non-holiday events and the overall experiential arc for our students, alumni, families and community members.
TH: You used to work with high school students involved with NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth). Now you work closely with college students involved at Texas Hillel. What do you like about working with young adults?
SH: I was a NFTY dropout in high school, and I think I attended Hillel just once in college. We didn’t have the same engagement strategies then that we do now, but regardless, I just never really found my way through those doors. I visited both programs, but I never became a member. As a Jewish adult and professional, I know how powerful and important those experiences are, and as a former outsider, I’m able to do my work with a unique perspective of the disengaged, unengaged or simply unaware. I love working with people of all ages, especially young adults. I enjoy listening, guiding, laughing and challenging those I work with. I think my own student experiences (or lack thereof) with NFTY and Hillel have driven my professional experiences, making them all the more rewarding. I believe in the values, I embrace the challenges and I understand the stakes.
TH: What are some of your short-term and long-term goals for Texas Hillel? What changes would you like to see implemented?
SH: I’d like to really take hold of Texas Hillel’s brand image. We’re in the process of developing our branding guide and long-term marketing plan for the full organization, but updating our external materials and refining our strategies is a start. I’m also working on mapping our experiential arc, the 4-year pathway of offerings, options, experiences and impact that any student can opt into at any point. This means establishing and building on our master calendar of core programs, and expanding our leadership pipeline, all in a way that is customizable and mission-aligned.
TH: You recently relocated from Santa Barbara. How do you like Austin?
SH: I love Austin. It’s a great city, which offers anything you might want, and somehow still feels small and personal. Not to mention, there are places open past 8pm.
TH: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
SH: I’ve never been great at talking about myself, but here’s what the staff and students tend to say when they’re making fun of me. “He always uses Helvetica, and insists that everyone else does too.” “He’s fully moved into his office, but there’s still nothing in there.” “Loves emails, loves agendas, loves lists.” I think those are all pretty accurate.